The sense of smell is very important. Did you know that this sense often gets affected due to depression? Many observe during pregnancy that their sense of smell heightens often making nausea worse so why is it that many suffer a loss of smell in the postanatal stage due to postnatal depression or other mental illness post baby?
"Personally, my husband did not believe me that my sense of smell had gotten so bad due to my postnatal depression and anxiety. Unfortunately now many smells go unnoticed or the degree of the smell needs to be greater in order to sense it..."
So here is why?
Depression, schizophrenia and seasonal affective disorder all suppress the sense of smell. The olfactory bulbs is the part of the brain that gives us our sense of smell. Researchers have found that the more severely depressed a person was, the smaller their olfactory bulb. Therefore this suggests that depression may cloud, but not damage, a person's sense of smell. The reduced brain response to odours found in depressed persons may be tied to problems in two closely connected parts of the brain that play an important role in processing emotional information and smell, known as the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala.
The effects were present whether or not an individual was taking antidepressant drugs.
It has also been noted that once the depression has been successfully treated the sense of smell/response to smells returned back to their normal levels.
Mindfulness is a process that leads to a mental state characterized by nonjudgmental awareness of the present experiences, such as sensations, thoughts, bodily states, and the environment. It enables us to distance ourselves from our thoughts and feelings without labeling them as good or bad.
Anxiety is the mind and body's reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It's the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event. A certain level of anxiety helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, it feels far from normal - it can be completely debilitating.
An anxious person will report an unreasonable exaggeration of threats, repetitive negative thinking, hyper-arousal, and a strong identification with fear. The fight-or-flight response kicks into overdrive.
By focusing our attention on the present moment, mindfulness counteracts rumination and worrying. Worrying about the future (e.g. I better remember to pay those bills and clean my house this weekend) and ruminating about the past (e.g., I should have done this rather than that) are generally maladaptive thinking processes. Mindfulness can be an important tool for helping us to better focus on the present moment.
Mindfulness helps us reduce anxiety and depression. Mindfulness teaches us how to respond to stress with awareness of what is happening in the present moment, rather than simply acting instinctively, unaware of what emotions or motives may be driving that decision. By teaching awareness for one's physical and mental state in the moment, mindfulness allows for more adaptive reactions to difficult situations.
Beyond Blue states:
“The research tells us that practising mindfulness does have some benefits for mental health wellbeing and for managing depression and anxiety. It is also helpful when it comes to managing some long-term physical conditions, helping the patient to better deal with pain or discomfort.
Many people who practise mindfulness report a number of tangible benefits, such as:
- Improved memory
- Better concentration
- More flexibility in their thinking
- Greater ability to focus
- Less rumination (when the mind gets over chatty!)
- Better stress management
- Higher satisfaction with relationships and quality of life
There has also been some research conducted linking the benefits of turmeric supplements by influencing the neurotransmitter balance in the brain and can be complimentary treatment.
Did you know:
PANDA - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood. PANDA operates Australia’s only National Helpline for individuals and their families to recover from perinatal anxiety and depression, a serious illness that affects up to one in five expecting or new mums and one in ten expecting or new dads.
PANDA operates Australia’s only National Helpline that supports families affected by perinatal anxiety and depression and postnatal psychosis. Our daily contact with women, men and families affected by these illnesses gives us extraordinary insight into the complex rollercoaster journey experienced by many expecting and new many parents. We have developed a unique understanding of perinatal mental illness across the country and are committed to sharing this expertise to improve emotional and mental health outcomes for expecting and new parents and their children.
They offer a number of different supports including:
Providing the only National Helpline dedicated to perinatal mental health, PANDA is driven by the lived experience of people affected by perinatal anxiety and depression. PANDA responds to the needs of families across Australia who are expecting a baby or in the first year after the baby’s birth, from major cities to rural and remote areas. The Helpline offers support, information, counselling and referral to expecting and new mothers and fathers and their families and friends. Our team also provides health professionals.
Community Champions Program
PANDA’s Community Champions program is a national network of volunteers who champion PANDA’s mission to support families in a positive transition to early parenthood. Along with raising community awareness about perinatal anxiety and depression, our Community Champions also promote PANDA’s specialist perinatal services and support PANDA’s community fundraising activities.
PANDA National Helpline
(Mon to Fri, 9am - 7.30pm AEST/AEDT)
Call 1300 726 306